In Memoriam Laure Gauthier

Hommage à Laure —
Faire le tour de sa vie en 180 images
Pour honorer sa mémoire

Après lui avoir rendue hommage avec des mots, voici un hommage en images à la vie de ma mère, Laure Gauthier, décédée d’un cancer le dimanche 5 mars 2017. Elle avait quatre-vingt-sept ans et a eut une belle vie bien remplie qui mérite d’être célébrée et commémorée. Puisse-t-elle continuer à vivre dans nos souvenirs…

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Monthly notable news (W53-03)

The Holidays and the couple of weeks that followed were rather quiet. Thankfully, I had to deal with much less craziness at work. But that was only the eye of the storm and those depressing days (scientifically certified as such since Blue Monday fell on January 16th this year) are coming to an end. The days are getting longer and more shit will soon hit the fan. Of course, there’s also this endless American nightmare with everything Trump. I wish I could forget about all that and never hear about it again, but unfortunately that’s what the world has become now.

I am already getting behind in my writings, but I caught up a little with my TV and movie watching. Besides the restarting new seasons (mostly Call The Midwife, Colony, Endeavour, Father Brown, Homeland), the notable new additions are Victoria and Dark Angel (although those two have already ended) as well as the weird Young Pope (a young and reckless leader is unexpectedly elected to head the Church — a little reminescent of the whole “orange is the new black” American electoral fiasco — but it’s directed by Paolo Sorrentino, who gave us La grande bellezza) and the quite interesting Mercy Street, a medical period drama set at the Mansion House Hospital during the American Civil War.

I’ll try to reinvent myself this year (so much to do) and push forward even harder on the path to improve my temperament and expend my knowledge. That’s the only purpose one can have.

Despite everything, I tried to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here’s a “few” notable news & links that I came across this month and that I’d like to share with you, after the jump (in no particular order, in both french and english): Continue reading

Discovery: five new anime to watch

In This Corner of the World

While watching the news on NHK World earlier today, I saw a report on a new anime movie that sounds quite interesting. Based on a manga by Fumiyo Kōno, this historical animated drama tells the daily life of young newly wed Suzu in the Japanese countryside of Kure during the years leading to WWII.

In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に / Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni): Japan, 2016, 130 min.; Dir./Scr.: Sunao Katabuchi; Anim. Dir.: Hidenori Matsubara; Char. Des.: Hidenori Matsubara; Mus.: Kotringo; Prod.: Masao Maruyama (MAPPA), Taro Maki (GENCO); Voice cast: Rena Nōnen (Suzu), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Shūsaku), Natsuki Inaba (Harumi), Minori Omi (Keiko), Daisuke Ono (Tetsu), Megumi Han (Sumi), Shigeru Ushiyama (Entaro), Mayumi Shintani (San), Nanase Iwai (Rin).

ANN / IMdB / Japan Times / Official website / Wikipedia / Youtube

Four more anime titles have caught our attention in the last few months:
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Opening of the 33rd JFFM

As I mentioned before, the 33rd Japanese Film Festival of Montreal was held at the Cinémathèque Québécoise on October 27th and 29th. This free annual event is co-organized by the Japan Foundation (Toronto) and the Consulate General of Japan in Montreal.

Before the screening of the first movie, A Tale of Samurai Cooking, the attendees were treated with a few canapé and a degustation of sake. There was a presentation by the a staff member of the Japanese consulate in Montreal, followed by allocutions of the Cinémathèque general director, Marcel Jean, and the Consul General in Montreal, Hideaki KURAMITSU.

Here’s a video of the opening allocutions (available on Vimeo):


You can also check our comments on two of the three movies presented at the festival: A Tale of Samurai Cooking and Sue, Mai & Sawa: Righting the Girl Ship.


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A Tale of Samurai Cooking

“Haru has an excellent sense of taste and unsurpassed skill in the kitchen, but her impetuous character leads to her husband asking for a divorce after only a year of marriage. One day, she is approached by Dennai Funaki, a samurai chef from Kaga, to marry his son and heir, Yasunobu.”

“Serving the Lord of Kaga not with the sword, but with the kitchen knife, the Funaki family has been known as “Kitchen Samurai” for generations. However, Yasunobu’s lack of culinary skills has placed the Funaki name in peril. To save her new family and its status as “Kitchen Samurai”, Haru decides to teach her new husband the refined art of Kaga cuisine from her point of view. Inspired by a true story.”

(Text from the Cinémathèque website)


WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

Haru is a maid for Lady Otei. She is now orphaned but she grew up in her parents’ restaurant and is an excellent cook. The Lady Otei arranged her marriage but her spirited and rebellious character displeased the husband and she was sent back. During a banquet she succeeds to identify all the ingredients in a mystery dish, thus impressing the Maeda family head’s Master chef, Funaki Den’nai. So much that he asked her to marry his second son, Yasunobu. His first son was supposed to take over his position of Master samurai chef but he died of a disease and now the responsibility fall on Yasunobu who would rather practice fencing than cuisine in order to be a “real” samurai. The father hopes that Haru could helps Yasunobu become more passionate toward his new job and improve his skills. She refuses at first, but with the Master Chef insistance she finally accepts the challenge and eventually finds her way into the samurai heart.

It is primarily a romantic story and the dramatic tone is provided by a backdrop of political power plays inside the Kaga clan. It’s a little complex to detail but, in a nutshell, a high-ranking (and powerful) Kaga samurai, Denzo Otsuki (the lover of Lady Otei), wanted to do fiscal reforms, but is opposed by a faction in the clan who put him under arrest. In revenge, his supporters (including Sadanoshin Imai, Yasunobu’s fencing instructor and friend) attempt to kill the Lord. There was also a power play between the Maeda family (head of the Kaga clan, in Kanazawa, Ishiwaka prefecture) and the Tokugawa clan (both being the top two richest clans). Those events (the so-called “Kaga Disturbance“) and characters are historical — even the Master chef, Funaki Den’nai, who wrote books about Kaga’s cuisine. Strangely, the Japanese political situation was not dissimilar to Louis XIV court, where the king was trying to keep the nobility busy at court with banquets and inner struggles in order to prevent them plotting against him.

Japanese drama often have a strong comedic undertone (which can annoy western audience who is not used to such a mix). In this case, the comedic aspect is more subdued. The whole set up of banquets and qualifying cooking competitions for a prominent position on the domain’s kitchen reminded me of the Japanese TV cooking show Iron Chef. And, surprise!, the family head, Naomi Maeda — who is never seen before the end, is played by none other than the Iron Chef‘s show host Takeshi Kaga! Coincidence? I don’t think so.

A funny anecdote: a friend of my wife, who’s not used to Japanese movies and culture, found the samurai’s hairdo rather ugly. It made me realized that I was so used to it that I never wondered why samurai wore such a strange hairdo. This traditional topknot style was called Chonmage and was not only the symbol of the samurai status (hence cutting the hair in defeat or disgrace) but was also used “to hold a samurai helmet steady atop the head in battle”. Fascinating!

A Tale of Samurai Cooking is an interesting jidai-geki movie that is somewhat similar to Abacus & Sword, where the protagonist is a samurai accountant. It teaches us about Japanese history (Edo period) and shows us plenty of beautiful landscapes and local dishes while entertaining us with a very good love story. It’s worth watching but, unfortunately, it is not available in DVD here (although there’s a R2 Dvd with english subtitles).

A Tale of Samurai Cooking: A True Love Story (武士の献立 / Bushi no kondate / lit. “Warrior’s Menu”). Japan, 2013, 121 min.; Dir.: Yûzô Asahara; Ass. Dir.: Masanori Inoue; Scr.: Michio Kashiwada, Yukiko Yamamuro, Yuzo Asahara (based on the novel by Naoki Oishi); Phot.: Yukihiro Okimura; Music: Tarô Iwashiro; Prod.: Yoshio Ishizuka, Hideaki Miyoshi; Cast: Aya UETO, Kengo KÔRA, Kimiko YO, Toshiyuki NISHIDA, Riko Narumi, Tasuku Emoto, Kenta Hamano, Hana Ebise, Ayane Ômori, Toshiki Ayata.

Film screened at the 33rd Japanese Film Festival of Montreal on October 27th, 2016 (Cinémathèque Québécoise, 19h00 – the small theatre was filled to the last seat). This free event is organized each year by the Japan Foundation (Toronto) and the Consulate General of Japan.

For more information you can visit the following websites:

A Tale of Samurai Cooking © 2016 「A Tale of Samurai Cooking」movie. All Rights Reserved.

The trailer is avaialble on Youtube:


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Sue, Mai and Sawa

“A heartwarming drama based on Miri Masuda’s comic strip series, Sue, Mai & Sawa: Righting the Girl Ship offers a warm and tender depiction of the lives of three women, former colleagues whose friendship has endured over the course of 10 years. Now in their thirties, the three friends each harbor anxieties about their future, their professional paths, their love lives, and their family ties.”

(Text from the Cinémathèque website)


WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

This movie is based on a josei yonkoma (4-panel comic strip aimed at an adult female readership) by Miri Masuda. This style of comic is very popular in Japan. Sū-chan “follows the daily lives of women who deal with their anxieties regarding love and work”. It is published by Gentosha and “has sold over 280,000 copies” (up to March 2013). Four volumes have been released between April 2006 and November 2012 (the first volume came out in paperback in August 2009; a preview of the first six pages is available online — opposite: pp. 4-5). (Sources: ANN, Wikipedia Ja)

The movie adaptation, titled Sue, Mai & Sawa: Righting the Girl Ship, is a typical Japanese feel-good movie. However, despite the light tone, it seriously tackles the anxieties of Japanese single women. It tells the story of three women in their thirties who find themselves questioning their life situation and how they more or less succeed to find happiness.

Yoshiko Morimoto, nicknamed Sue-chan, is 34-year-old and works in a coffee shop where she can put to use her talent for cooking. She has feeling for the manager, but her hesitation prompts a younger, more aggressive colleague to secure his love before she can do anything. However, the owner ends up offering her the manager position. She’s insecure at first and makes mistake, but she slowly grows into the responsibility. She has good wisdom and is a great help to confort and give advise to her friends.

Maiko Okamura, nicknamed Mai-chan, is a 34-year-old office lady working in the sales department of an OA manufacturing company. She is stressed by the pressure at work and frustrated with the fact that her affair with a married man is going nowhere. When her dermatologist suggests that she should give up on some of her life’s problems, she decides to dump her boyfriend and registers with a marriage agency. One year later, she is married and pregnant. However, she worries that motherhood would change her, but finally learns to say goodbye to the woman she was and accepts whom she has become.

Sawako Hayashi, nicknamed Sawa-san, is a 39-year-old web designer. She helps her mother take care of the grandmother who’s bedridden and suffers from dementia. She worries that if she ever marry she would leave her mother to do the care-giving by herself. She meet by chance a former classmate and starts going out with him, but when he appears more concerned with having a descendance and requests a “fertility certificate”, she gets angry and dumps him. She comes to term with having to take care of her grandmother.

The movie feels a little like a sketch comedy in the beginning, but it quickly gets structured into a more uniform storytelling. It might have been intentional, in order to allude to the original 4-panel format which is, by definition, a series of short stories ending with a punch. Food is also a recurring theme in the movie (and a theme shared by all three movies screened at the festival this year) as the friends always gathered around a meal to discuss their problems. But since Ozu it seems that food and meals has been a frequent theme in Japanese movies.

All in all, Sue, Mai & Sawa is an interesting movie that provide some reflection about life and a good entertainment.

Sue, Mai & Sawa: Righting the Girl Ship (すーちゃん まいちゃん さわ子さん / Sû chan Mai chan Sawako san). Japan, 2013, 106 min.; Dir.: Osamu Minorikawa; Scr.: Sachiko Tanaka (based on the 4-koma by Miri Masuda); Phot.: Gen Kobayashi; Prod.: Yoshitaka Takeda; Cast: Yôko Maki, Shinobu Terajima, Kou Shibasaki, Shota Sometani, Arata Iura, Hana Kino, Gin Pun Chou, Akiko Kazami, Megumi Sato, Mio Uema, Aoi Yoshikura, Ai Takabe.

Film screened at the 33rd Japanese Film Festival of Montreal on October 29th, 2016 (Cinémathèque Québécoise, 15h00 – the small theatre was full). This free event is organized each year by the Japan Foundation (Toronto) and the Consulate General of Japan.

For more information you can visit the following websites:

Sue, Mai & Sawa © 2012 「Sue, Mai & Sawa」Production Committee.

The trailer is avaialble on Youtube:


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Toulouse-Lautrec: Affiche la Belle Époque

Toulouse-Lautrec: Affiche la Belle Époque

Mercredi après le travail je me suis dépêché d’aller visiter l’exposition sur les affiches de Toulouse-Lautrec au Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal qui se termine dimanche.

“Cette exposition présente une collection particulière d’exception qui comprend plus de quatre-vingt-dix estampes et affiches, couvrant presque toute la période de la production lithographique de Toulouse-Lautrec, de 1891 (…) à 1899.”

Même si on y retrouve que les affiches de Toulouse-Lautrec (pas de peintures), c’est tout de même très intéressant. Lautrec était vraiment un illustrateur de talent. Toutefois, c’est une petite exposition qui ne comprend que quelques salles et j’en ai donc fait le tour assez rapidement (en un peu plus d’une heure). Comme à mon habitude, j’ai photographié les pièces de l’exposition qui m’interpellaient le plus afin de garder un petit souvenir de ma visite.

Voici un bref diaporama des mes photos que j’ai converti en video sur Vimeo:


Voir aussi mon album photo sur Flickr (avec titres et détails des affiches):

Toulouse-Lautrec
(iPhone 6s, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, 2016-10-26)
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FFM videos


To complete our coverage of the festival, here is the video for the Red carpet arrival of director Yoshinari Nishikori, actors Naoki Kobayashi and Sho Aoyagi for the Japanese movie Tatara Samurai screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 29th, 2016:


Tatara Samurai – Red Carpet from clodjee on Vimeo.
And here is the video of the introduction and Q&A for Tatara Samurai screened the same night:


Tatara Samurai from clodjee on Vimeo.
As a bonus I am throwing in the video of Isabelle Adjani’s red carpet arrival at the Montreal World Film Festival on September 4th, 2016:


Isabelle Adjani – Red carpet from clodjee on Vimeo.
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The Seal of the Sun

“On March 11, 2011, the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake struck.”

“On that day, Japan faced the dangers of a catastrophic event that threatened a large segment of the population. The Earthquake knocked out the electricity at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear plant located in Northeastern Japan. The emergency cooling system failed and the temperature inside the nuclear reactor kept climbing. A crisis equal to the Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster was looming.”

“The power plant metamorphosed into a gigantic and menacing monster. Scientists, surprised and shocked by the crisis which quickly expanded well beyond what they had predicted, made several erroneous judgements and decisions. The Prime Minister’s office was thrown into chaos with very little accurate information available to them.”

“Meanwhile, residents were hastily evacuated, forced to say good-bye to their homes. However, a time bomb was ticking without any credible solution to the crisis. Then, the catastrophe began with the explosion of the Unit 1 building. It then cascaded into explosions inside of the Unit 2 and 3 buildings. The countdown to the complete meltdown and total destruction continued and never stopped.”

(Text from production flyer)


WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.

This is a docudrama about a very interesting subject: it recount, almost hour by hour, the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident that took place after the Eastern Japan Great Earthquake of March 2011. Unfortunately, what should have been an action movie had a pace way too slow to feel real. And the acting was more often than not exaggerated to the limit of parody. It was rather annoying and distracted from the story. A lot of emphasis was put on the emotion of the characters, probably in an attempt to make the viewers empathize more with their situation.

It’s a political movie set to tell the truth about the events in Fukushima, particularly the inaptitude of the government to handle the crisis and its failure to properly communicate with the company managing the damaged power plant in order to get the timely information that could have help them maker better decision. We see the events unfold from the point of view of a journalist, an assistant to the Prime Minister as well as his wife and child in Tokyo, a family of evacuees from Fukushima and their son working at the power plant.

In the presentation, the producer said (in a gibberish English) that they were proud to have used the real name of the politicians involved in the crisis (the Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his cabinet : mostly Chief Secretary Yukio Edano, his deputy Tetsuro Fukuyama, and Manabu Terata), apparently a premiere in Japan, and yet they have changed the name (at least in the subtitles) of TEPCO, the electrical company managing the power plant — possibly to avoid a lawsuit.

It’s a clearly (but quite clumsy) anti-nuclear advocacy that justly make the point that the Japanese have been made to believe by the corporate and political powers that Japan absolutely need nuclear power while there are plenty of alternatives. If TEPCO is the main culprit for having lied about the severity of the situation, and the government share this guilt for having failed to see through it and act accordingly, ultimately it is the Japanese people themselves who really are to blame for having allowed this policy to take place in the first place. Building nuclear power stations (over fifty of them!) in a country prone to earthquakes and tsunamis was shear madness. It was an accident waiting to happened. It should never have.

The photography is great but the script and editing are a little lacking. Action movies are like jokes: all is in the timing — or, in this case, the pacing. If it is quite an average movie, it is still an interesting subject and nevertheless an enjoyable entertainment.

The Seal of the Sun (太陽 の 蓋 / Taiyō no futa) : Japan, 2016, 130 min.; Dir.: Futoshi Sato; Scr.: Takashi Hasegawa; Phot.: Yukio Komiya; Ed.: Yukiko Kobayashi; Mus.: Micky Yoshino; Sound: Sinichi Yoshii; Prod. Des.: Hajime Oikawa; Prod.: Kaoru Ohtsuka; Exec. Prod.: Tamiyoshi Tachibana; Cast: Yukiya Kitamura, Yoshihiko Hakamada, Shima Ohnishi, Yuri Nakamura, Tomohiro Kaku, Kunihiko Mitamura, Daikichi Sugawara, Yu Kamio, Sota Aoyama, Kenji Anan.

Film screened at the Montreal World Film Festival on August 26th, 2016 (Cinema Imperial, 19h00 – the attendance was around 75 to 90 people) as part of the “Focus on the World Cinema” segment. The production team was present to introduce the screening.

For more information you can visit the following websites:

The Seal of the Sun © 2016 「Taiyō no futa」Project / Tachibana Tamiyoshi.

Video of the crew’s introduction of the screening on Vimeo

(Sorry I had camera problems so it’s not very good and incomplete)
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